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One Nigeria: Matters arising – New Telegraph

By The Citizen

'United we stand, divided we fall.'

This is a common refrain in Nigeria. But has there ever been proof of unity in diversity? Outside its myriads of problems, particularly the economic and political challenges, Nigeria is facing real dangers of secession.

After the 1967 to 1970 Civil War, this is probably the first time the threats by some sections of the country to pull out of Nigeria have become more real than ever before.

Although there have been pockets of agitations mainly sponsored by politicians trying desperately to cling to power or those who want to return to mainstream politics.

However, the emergence of Nnamdi Kanu with his Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on the firmament of the agitation gave fillip to the cause of groups seeking separate republics. It changed the traditional approach employed by groups such as Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and others.

The IPOB agitation, which appeared at the outset as a flash in the pan, has unfortunately become a thorn in the flesh of Nigeria's unity.

Several people have been killed in the fresh phase of the agitation for the Biafra Republic. In the last couple of weeks, more daring associations such as the Niger Delta Avengers, Biafra Avengers, etc, have emerged with great consequences on the nation's fragile economy.

The groups have vowed to ground the nation's economy unless they are allowed to form the Biafra Republic. Nigeria has not always being a country.

It became a country through the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914 through the efforts of Frederick John Dealtry Lugard, who became Nigeria's first Governor General.

Since the people of the geographical entity, which is today called Nigeria, had no choice in the forced marriage which brought about the country, they ought to have the right to determine their continued stay together.

Unfortunately, referendum is not expressly stated as part of the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.

If democracy is borrowed, it ought to have been lifted with all its tenets. Instead of trying to create a comfort zone for themselves by making fruitless efforts to entrench immunity and pensions for themselves in the constitution, the National Assembly members ought to make provision for the inclusion of referendum in the nation's constitution.

Holding a referendum does not suggest an automatic balkanisation of the country. Pulling out of any region will depend on the outcome of the referendum, which in its own is dependent on several variable factors.

In recent history, a classical example is the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. European Union (EU) membership, currency which an independent Scotland would use, public expenditure and North Sea oil were some of the important issues raised during the referendum.

It was not only just about independence. At the end, those who wanted Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom won by 55.3 per cent as against 44.7 per cent who voted for independence. But there were underlining factors which produced the result at the referendum. Compromises were reached as more rights and other fringe benefits were promised the Scots before the referendum was held.

In Nigeria, lessons can be learnt from the Scottish example. Those who want to go should be allowed to go; if it will not hurt the rest of the country, otherwise concessions could be given to the agitators.

It is often said that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. Nigerian political leaders must not wait for the former Yugoslavia experience in the country. From 1991 to 2001, wars, which sprang up from ethnic skirmishes, were fought inside the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

The wars eventually led to the breakup of the country into different republics. The Yugoslav government attempted to forcibly halt the breakup which led to the Yugoslav wars and the ultimate breakup of Yugoslavia into six countries and later seven republics.

But if there is a break up through referendum, who says the door of reconciliation and reunification will be permanently shut Germany today is a united nation.

But at a time there was German Democratic Republic (GDR) otherwise called East Germany and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) or West Germany. Although the Germans did not vote to break up, in fact, they had no say or choice in the split, the two 'countries' came later back as a nation.

The world stood in awe when the Berlin Wall came down, then the city became one and the two countries also became one again.

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Zube stan | 5/25/2018 1:45:00 AM
This world is full of wonders. The incidence happening in dis country called Nigeria keep suprising me everyday. We de owners nd rulers of agriculture, that someone is trying to destroy de name we made for ourselves. No tell me from which area should we clean first,all areas need a solution and i think that the politicians got an answer or solution to that.
Appreciation is best expressed in life, not in eulogy.
By: Chuks UC Ukaoma